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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 104

(Question No. 4978)


Mr Hunt asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 28 November 1986:

(1) When will he determine whether trials are to be conducted at the Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong into disease risks associated with any future importation of uncooked pigmeat from Canada.

(2) Has he at any time given an undertaking to pig industry or veterinary spokesmen that the trials at Geelong would definitely be conducted.

(3) What sources will be use to make a decision on whether the trials are justified.

(4) Has he discussed with pig industry leaders the economic aspects of allowing imports of uncooked pigmeat from Canada; if so, have these matters been settled to the satisfaction of the industry.


Mr Kerin —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) At a meeting with representatives of the Australian Pork Producers Federation and the Australian Veterinary Association on 10 November 1986, I asked that representatives of industry, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) and my Department examine the feasibility and desirability of undertaking the trials at AAHL. I have asked that the group report back to me within 2 months so that I may determine whether to proceed with the trials or not.

(2) No.

(3) In establishing the group to report back to me on this matter, I have stipulated that any proposal to carry out trials must ensure that the trials are designed in such a way as to provide results which will add to the current knowledge on the transmission of transmissible gastroenteritis in pigmeat. The trials must have pre-determined objectives and the experimental protocols must be such that the results can be meaningfully interpreted. If agreement can be reached within the group then I will examine the proposal and, should I believe that the work will assist me to make a more informed judgment on this issue I will have the research proceed. If not I will decide on the basis of available information.

(4) During my discussions with industry leaders on the quarantine aspects of the Canadian request for access to the Australian market for uncooked pigmeat some economic issues were raised. I have made it quite clear, however, that this Government will not use quarantine restrictions to give economic protection to industries. As a country which depends for its economic well being on agricultural trade, Australia would be a net loser if quarantine barriers were erected or maintained to provide no-tariff assistance to rural industries.

I am sure that the leaders of the pig industry appreciate the need for a strong stand by the Australian Government on this issue and are also aware of the appropriate courses of action available if the industry's viability is threatened by dumped or subsidised imports.